Quick facts about smallpox

Contraindications to vaccination

Contradictions to non-emergency smallpox vaccination


  • Because the vaccinia virus The poxvirus that is the causative agent of cowpox and is used for vaccination against smallpox. can be spread to others, persons who have the following conditions, or who live with persons that have the following conditions, should not get the smallpox vaccine:

  • Persons with current or past diagnosis of eczema An inflammatory condition of the skin characterized by redness, itching, and oozing vesicular lesions which become scaly, crusted, or hardened. or atopic dermatitis Inflammation of the skin.

  • Persons with active acute or chronic disruptive skin conditions including burns, impetigo An acute contagious staphylococcal or streptococcal skin disease characterized by vesicles, pustules, and yellowish crusts., chickenpox An acute contagious disease especially of children that is marked by low-grade fever and formation of vesicles and that is caused by a herpesvirus -- called also varicella., contact dermatitis, shingles An acute viral inflammation of the sensory ganglia of spinal and cranial nerves associated with a vesicular eruption and neuralgic pain and caused by reactivation of the herpesvirus causing chicken pox -- called also herpes zoster, zona, zoster., herpes Any of several inflammatory diseases of the skin caused by herpesviruses and characterized by clusters of vesicles., severe acne, or psoriasis A chronic skin disease characterized by circumscribed red patches covered with white scales.

  • Persons who are immunosuppressed Suppression of natural immune responses. with conditions such as HIV/AIDS, solid organ or stem cell transplants, malignancy Condition tending to produce death or deterioration; especially tending to infiltrate, metastasize, and terminate fatally., leukemia An acute or chronic disease of unknown cause in humans and other warm-blooded animals that involves the blood-forming organs, is characterized by an abnormal increase in the number of white blood cells in the tissues of the body with or without a corresponding increase of those in the circulating blood, and is classified according to the type of white blood cell most prominently involved., lymphoma A usually malignant tumor of lymphoid tissue., agammaglobulinemia A pathological condition in which the body forms few or no gamma globulins or antibodies., autoimmune disease or receiving immunosuppressant drugs (including inhaled steroids)

  • Persons allergic to the vaccine or any of its ingredients (may contain polymyxin B sulfate, streptomycin sulfate, chlortetracycline hydrochloride, neomycin sulfate)

  • Persons with conjunctival The mucous membrane that lines the inner surface of the eyelids and is continued over the forepart of the eyeball. inflammation

  • Infants younger than 12 months

  • Women who are pregnant or plan to get pregnant

  • Women who are breast feeding

  • Persons with a moderate to severe short-term illness



Contraindications to emergency smallpox vaccination


  • People who have been directly exposed to the smallpox virus should get the vaccine regardless of their health status

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